THE BLOG
06/06/2016 01:30 pm ET Updated Jun 07, 2017

How Well Is Hillary's Attack on "Duce" Donald Trump Working?

Hillary Clinton has finally done herself some real good with her big speech late last week in San Diego going after Donald Trump's aggressively ignorant and dangerous approach to geopolitics and national security affairs. And just in the nick of time, for his unhinged response to her tough remarks -- he angrily vowed to jail his probable election opponent once elected -- and earlier in the week to rare serious press scrutiny of his four month-history of falsely claiming to have made a big donation to veterans, points up just how high the stakes really are in this election.

Let's see, he threatens the free press with an expansive definition of "libel," says he'll jail his election opponent ... at what point do people finally get that Trump is a neo-fascist? That's without even examining his racist attacks on the judge presiding over the case against the preposterous "Trump University."

Meanwhile, with the republic still in existence, Clinton's speech played well in the media and with the public. Intriguingly, Trump had little to counter it aside from his blustery and threatening rhetoric. No serious figures stood up to vouch for him as a thinker on world affairs and national security. His campaign apparatus appeared paralyzed. Only the dreadful Drudge Report had much of a counter, in the form of an attempt to distract by hyping a forthcoming book by a former uniformed Secret Service cop from the Bill Clinton White House. Not a member of the movable feast presidential detail, this fellow evidently has more refried beans from nearly 20 years ago about the supposed "reality" of the Clintons.

In her long march toward the White House, Hillary Clinton has struggled more than a bit in coming to grips with Trump and Trumpism.

Hillary Clinton gave a powerfully dismissive speech in San Diego about Donald Trump's truly disqualifying characteristics.

Fortunately, finally, we are past the days when Clinton senior staffers would smugly chortle as they watched Trump ramblingly declaring victory in a string of primary night appearances.

Hillary's Thursday speech did a fine job of incisively and humorously using Trump's own words to demonstrate that he is not only a thoroughly ignorant man when it comes to the national security side of the presidency but also a dangerously erratic and endlessly dishonest personality in the bargain.

It was a far cry from what had not been working for Hillary in recent weeks, i.e., an attempt to take down Trump Romney-style as an out-of-touch Richie Rich and bad businessman. Frankly, the media paid no attention, and Trump easily distracted from the charges with his trademark mix of vicious tweets and breathlessly covered public ramblings.

"Donald Trump's ideas aren't just different - they are dangerously incoherent," Hillary said in her well-delivered San Diego address. "They're not even really ideas -- just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds, and outright lies."

Here's Clinton's outstanding text. Kudos to all involved.

She continued the same style of assault, highlighting more domestic issues and her continued dry sense of humor at Trump's expense, in subsequent California appearances going into the weekend.

Clinton forecast in her speech that she would get under Trump's very thin skin. And did she ever, provoking a Trump response that itself would be disqualifying in a healthy media and political environment, with the Mussolini-admiring billionaire bully boy, humiliated by her criticism, vowing to send his opponent to jail. Ostensibly for the much-hyped, mostly substance-free controversy around her private e-mails as secretary of state, but really, as the video below makes clear, in retaliation for Clinton's temerity in calling out his truly ludicrous lack of knowledge and judgment.

Put that together with Trump's disgusting insults and intimidating threats against reporters who earlier in the week revealed months of lying about his PR stunt of supposedly contributing and raising money for veterans to dodge his way out of a debate early this year and the extent of Trump's substantive and psychological disqualifications becomes even more appallingly clear.

A complete opportunist and compleat narcissist, Trump is a neo-fascist. By that I mean that his politics exhibits nearly all the characteristics of the fascist politics employed by Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler as they swept to power -- aided by necessary alliances of convenience with conservative elites -- in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.

When you examine the characteristics laid out in my piece three months ago, derived largely from Robert O. Paxton's definitive 2004 study, The Anatomy of Fascism, you see that the only one which does not apply to Trump is the emphasis on violence in the group's success. And Trump comes right up to the edge of that as well, with months of violent and hostile comments at big rallies about what he'd like to do to those who protest against him.

Donald Trump responded with self-absorbed bluster and threats. "After what she said about me today, in her phony speech, that was a phony speech, that was a Donald Trump hit job, I will say this, Hillary Clinton has to go to jail."

That the notorious Obama birther and greenhouse denier Trump is the only candidate to incite violence makes it even more imperative for left-wing protesters against the Republican candidate to step back from their actions a few days ago here in California and refrain from any shows of violence. Only then does the contrast work against Trump, for, as Cesar Chavez put it: "No violencia es nuestra fuerza."

"Non-violence is our strength," and a powerful one in isolating Trump as a dangerous extremist. To engage in self-indulgent violence against him is to play into his hands.

As long-time readers know, there is no other major contemporary American political figure I've described as a fascist. No, not George W. Bush, who struck me in person as an amiable and bright if oddly incurious fellow whose presidency could have gone rather differently had he followed the counsel of Colin Powell and Condi Rice rather than than that of Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld.

While the discussion from three months ago makes for a good long-form definition of what makes a fascist, the short-form take is that fascism blends authoritarianism with populism. Dick Cheney, for example, who uncannily pops up again and again in negative ways in my recent detailed studies of US national security affairs since 1940, is an authoritarian but no populist.

That's why the ex-veep, who now backs Trump, could never take power on his own hook. He needed to manipulate W, as George Bush I bitterly notes in his memoirs.

With great respect to my primary choice Bernie Sanders, what the Democratic candidate, who barring the proverbial encounter with a bus, will be Hillary Clinton, must do is blow up Trump's populist pose while exposing his authoritarian bent.

And she has to be entertaining as she does it. Otherwise our flyweight media culture, whose gnat-like attention span has done so much to allow Trump to short-circuit and shatter substantive discussion, will let Duce Donald and his politics of mindless distraction and endless scapegoating slide once again. Perhaps all the way to the White House.

In the meantime, Hillary Clinton has made a good start.

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